Chronic Poverty & Aid Allocation
Richard Bradley in 1940 called India a “begging bowl”. It sounds bitter but a country was really in a problematic situation, especially following the period of independence.
According to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reports of 2020, there were 21.6% of the poor population in India. There are estimates that a quarter of a billion of India’s population will be pushed into poverty by the end of 2022. Poverty is the main reason behind in inequality of opportunities, unemployment, literacy and disease. Poor constitutes a major proportion of India’s population and therefore proper measures have to be taken to eradicate poverty. Poverty is not the only a challenge for India but for the whole world where there are about 689 million people who live in extreme poverty.
There are many initiatives taken by the government of India for poverty eradication. One of the major programmes that could be identified is a green revolution which made a tremendous impact on the agricultural sector of the country. Earlier 70% of India’s population was engaged in agriculture, so it was great to move for ensuring food security for people. India’s status changed from a net importer of food to a net exporter country. The main focus of the Green revolution was to attain food security and to make sure that nobody dies out of starvation. But was the green revolution successful enough to bring about the change in the conditions of the poor in our society? There are many loopholes in the Green Revolution and some of the most evidentiary are the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots of society due to the unequal distribution of various incentives under the scheme, and its ability to provide food to everyone. What is the main reason behind it – Is it the lack of food grains? or Is it the inefficiency of government policy? Or are there any other hindrances?
There are many other constant efforts that are being made for providing minimum basic needs to the people and the eradication of poverty since India became independent. Five-year plans were made by the government that aimed at the upliftment of the poorest of the poor. Like Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) and Swarna Jayanti Sahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY). The educated unemployed people of the low-income families could get financial assistance under Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) to set up any kind of enterprise that can generate employment.
There is an encouragement to form Self-Help Groups and they save money and lend among themselves small loans. This is one of the ways to assist people in the rural areas and to free them from the vicious cycle of loans which they borrow from landlords and moneylenders at a very high-interest rate and the inability to pay it at the correct time makes them lose their land and major part of the property.
In 2005, a new act was passed by the Government Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MNREGA). Under this, all those poor who are ready to work at minimum wage are required to do some kind of work and are provided with the wage for 100 days in a year. Many people have benefited from this scheme.
The main aim is to provide minimum basic needs to the people who could not afford them. For this, grains are provided at subsidized rates, there is the provision of free education up till the age of 14 and mid-day meals are also provided to children. There are government hospitals for free treatment. There are many NGOs working for the same. They make people aware of the importance of sanitation and provide medical facilities and food to people.
Proper nutrition is very important for the well-being of the people so there are many programs that aim to do so.
Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana attempts to build housing for the people.
There are programs under which pension is provided to elderly people, poor women and people with physical and mental disabilities. The number of poor has declined over the period of time but there are still some states where hunger, malnourishment and illiteracy are prevalent due to poverty. Though there are many schemes aimed at providing food, shelter and employment they have not proved to bring about a radical change in the condition of the poor in the country.
There are many loopholes present in the proper execution of schemes of the government. There is an unequal distribution of resources which are allocated to the poor. Many times, resources aimed at giving to the poor are given to people who have sufficient resources. There are not sufficient amount of resources to be allocated to cater for the needs. There is efficient execution of government schemes due to corruption.
Though government policies are helpful they have failed to address the majority of the poor. One of the major reasons could be the lack of awareness among the poor people regarding the benefits which they could get from various government policies. Here comes the need of various institutions and NGOs which can make people vigilant about the government policies and simultaneously help them to avail those resources and to provide as much help by their side.
There is a need to build infrastructure like schools, roads, hospitals and training institutions in poverty-stricken areas. Vocational skills should be imparted to the poor people, especially women so that they could earn some money and can become independent.
We have travelled a long journey since Independence and poverty has been one of the greatest challenges for India. Poverty alleviation measures taken have proved fruitful in some areas but other areas still lack. We are still very far away from the goals but still looking on the brighter side our performance has been impressive. Though there are many people, sections of society, and some regions of the country which are drowned in the poverty but also there some people who have been able to come out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
Gandhiji called poverty a moral collapse of society and we aim to build a better India, a better place to live and a better society for the advancement of all the sections of people. This is possible only when the poor of our country are made to reach a good position.
According to World Bank reports, the number of extremely poor people in India decreased by half between 2011 and 2019. This report provides us with the insights into our country and the impact of various schemes on the poor and encourages us to follow the path of the same guidelines and bring the majority of the poor people above the poverty line and provide them with sufficient resources so that they could live within better living conditions.